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The Lesser Sunda Islands 1941-1942

  The map of the Dutch East Indies 1941-1942
The map is courtesy of Graham Donaldson

Bali Island is an island west of Java. In World War II it played an important role in the conquest of Java Island. An important Allied Naval Base at Soerabaja was in range of Japanese bombers from Bali's airfields. Bali Island was originally not a target in the Netherlands East Indies Campaign, but as the airfields on Borneo (Bandjermasin) were inoperative due to heavy rains and considering the fact that Bali Island didn't have that kind of rainfall, it was soon decided by the Imperial Japanese Army to occupy the island. They decided to send the Kanemura Detachment...

  The capture of Bali Island, February 1942

At the beginning of 1941 the KNIL Army had the following units on the Lesser Sunda Islands:
Flores Island: 4 KNIL brigades at Larantuke and 4 KNIL brigades at Endeh
Soemba Island: 3 KNIL brigades at Wainggapu
Alor Island: 3 KNIL brigades at Kalabahi

In December 1941 8 KNIL brigades from Flores Island were redeployed to Koepang (5 KNIL brigades), Atambua (2 KNIL brigades) on Timor, while one KNIL brigade was sent as reinforcement to Wainggapu (Soemba Island). This eventually meant that there was not a single KNIL brigade on Flores Island in 1942.

At Kalabahi, Alor Island, the US Patrol Squadron VP-102 of US Patrol Wing 10 was stationed between late January and early February 1942, from where they made some patrol flight missions up the east coast of Celebes and Butung Islands.


The Japanese occupation of Lesser Sunda Islands, May 1942

Final mop-up operations in the southwest Pacific called for the invasion of the Lesser Sunda Islands during the month of May 1942. Elements of the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet used for this operation, under the command of Rear-Admiral Kenzaburo Hara, Commander of the 16th Cruiser Division, included the light cruiser Izusu, minelayer Wakataka, the 1st Yokosuka SNLF (a battalion strength), and some additional troops from the Soerabaja Naval Base Force. Also participating, under Navy control, was an army infantry battalion, the 3rd Battalion of the 47th Infantry Regiment of the 48th Infantry Divison, under the command of Major Ikumi Miyaji.

The Lesser Sunda Islands Invasion Force sailed from Soerabaja harbour at 0900 on 8 March 1942 and proceed at first towards Lombok Island. On 9 May 1942 at 1700 hours the fleet sailed into port of Mataram on Lombok Island. The Naval Landing Force (NLF) disembarked in the face of the Dutch troops and occupied the entire terrain. Two companies (less 3 platoons), a communication unit, an engineer unit, a transport unit, a medical unit and a paymaster unit were left to occupy the territory. They left Mataram harbour the next day.

On 13 May 1942 at 0830 they entered port of Bima on Soembawa Island. The NLF landed in the face of the enemy and occupied the entire terrain. Two companies, a communication unit, an engineer unit, a transport unit, a medical unit and a paymaster unit were left to occupy the territory. On 13 May at 1000 they left Bima harbour.

On 14 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Reo, Flores Island.

On 14 May 1942 they again returned back to port of Bima on Soembawa Island.

On 16 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Labuhanbadjo on Flores Island.

On 16 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Waingapoe harbour on Soemba Island. The NLF landed in the face of the enemy and occupied the entire terrain. One company, a communication unit, an engineer unit, a transport unit, a medical unit and a paymaster unit were left to occupy the territory.

On 17 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Larantoeka, Flores Island.

On 17 May the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Endeh, Flores Island. The NLF landed in the face of the enemy and occupied the entire terrain. One company, a communication unit, an engineer unit, a transport unit, a medical unit and a paymaster unit were left to occupy the territory.


Order of Battle for S Conquest Force
Lesser Sunda Islands Group, May 1942
Rear-Admiral Kenzaburo Hara
(commander of the 16th Cruiser Division)
16th Cruiser Division (Sentai)
light cruiser Izusu and torpedo boat Tomozuru
1st Air Unit
seaplane depot ship Sanyo Maru
She carried the rest of the 1st Yokosuka SNLF. Her escort was submarine-chaser Ch 20
2nd Air Unit
The Navy provided air cover of 33rd Air Unit (Kokutai) from Soerabaja
1st Caution Unit
minelayer Wakataka
She carried half of the 1st Yokosuka SNLF and her escort was minesweeper W 12
2nd Caution Unit
Shingu Maru or (Shinju Maru) was an Army Transport.
She carried the 3rd Battalion of 47th Infantry Regiment.
Shinko Maru was a Navy Transport and carried the remainder of the army.
They were escorted by submarine-chasers Ch 6 and Ch 19
3rd Battalion of 47th Infantry Regiment
(commander Major Ikumi Miyaji)
1st Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force


On 18 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at an unknown place on Soembawa Island.

On 18 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Baah on Sawu Island.

On 20 May 1942 the Naval Landing Fleet sailed to Makassar Town, Celebes Island, for refueling.

On 20 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at Singaradja on Bali Island.

On 21 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) landed at an unknown place on Soembawa Island (same as on the 18th).

On 23 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) again returned to Singaradja, Bali Island.

On 23 May 1942 the Naval Landing Force (NLF) again landed at Mataram, Lombok Island.

On 25 May 1942 the Naval Landing Fleet returned to Soerabaja on Java Island.


On 8 May 1942 also sailed from Soerabaja the Army Landing Force (ALF) which was taking another route.

On 9 May the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Mataram on Lombok Island.

On 11 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at an unknown place on Soembawa Island.

On 11 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at an unknown place on Soembawa Island (did not return here).

On 12 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Soembawa Besar on Soembawa Island.

On 14 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Labuhanbadjo on Flores Island.

On 14 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Waingapoe on Soemba Island.

On 15 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Endeh on Flores Island.

On 16 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Reo on Flores Island.

On 16 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Laratoeka on Flores Island.

On 17 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Baah on Sawu Island.

On 18 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at unknown place on Soembawa Island (same as on the 11th).

On 19 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Makassar Town, Celebes Island, for refueling.

On 19 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Singaradja on Bali Island.

On 23 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) landed at Mataram on Lombok Island.

On 23 May 1942 the Army Landing Force (ALF) debarked at Singaradja on Bali Island.

The operation in the Lesser Sunda Islands was considered completed on 25 May and all participating elements with the exception of the 1st Yokosuka SNLF returned to their parent organizations. This latter unit was broken up and elements assumed occupation and observation duties at Singaradja (Bali Island), Mataram (Lombok Island), Bima (Soembawa Island), Waingapoe (Soemba Island) and Endeh (Flores Island).

Dutch POWs on Lombok Island, 1942

Dutch sailors captured by the Japanese soldiers, Lombok Island, 1942.
Probably they are survivors of Dutch destroyer Piet Hein, which sank during the Badung Strait Battle, February 1942.



Note It appears that the Japanese invasion force was split up into detachments to cover all their objectives. It's the only way they could have done it according to the dates.

Note It is obvious that the Japanese troops landed in some areas, but soon abandoned them as "Not Suitable".

Note Town of Endeh, Flores Island, would become HQ for the 24th Base Force in 1944.

Bibliography . Article List . Geographic Names

Copyright Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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